kolb0153: October 2011 Archives

Near Death Experiences

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Do near death experiences really exist? Or are they just figments of our imaginations? There is no strong evidence to support this claim, as stated in our book, and maybe there are simpler explanations as to why we feel as if we have had NDEs. There a tons of stories from people who have said they had a near death experience, even my sister thinks she experienced one. Last year she had to have surgery to remove her cancerous thyroid, and due to complications with the removal, she had to undergo another surgery. During that second surgery, my sister believes she "died" because she was in a white room and said she saw my grandma, who passed away 2 years ago. She has vivid details and has described her experience to us multiple times. Could she really have had a near death experience?
In our Psychology text book it states that alternative explanations for NDEs could be based on the changes in the chemistry of the brain associated with cardiac arrest, anesthesia, and other physical traumas. Our brains could just be releasing different chemicals and neurotransmitters that make us believe that we are experiencing bright lights or seeing things/ people that we couldn't possibly truly be witnessing. People could think they are experiencing NDEs because of certain psychedelic drugs they are taking as well. There is no significant amount of evidence that can prove that NDEs are a real thing yet. Many scientists say that the characteristics of near death experiences could just be the effects of an oxygen deprived brain.

I found some of the information on this site interesting. It talks about interesting stories of near death experiences and tries to show the evidence that they are real.


Self Awareness

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In the BBC video, one of the scientific experiments in the beginning is trying to find out when human beings become aware of themselves: the mirror self recognition test. At first as you can see, there was an eighteen month old tested in front of a mirror to see if he can realize that it is himself in the mirror and notice the mark put on his face. The experimenter, a professor from Portsmith University, and Marcus de Sautoy came to the conclusion that the child did not have a sense of self because he didn't move his hand up to touch the mark placed on his face. The next participant was a twenty-two month old girl. When her mother put the little mark on her cheek and she looked into the mirror, she immediately put her hand up to her face and tried to remove the dot. The experimenter stated that "she(the child) recognized that the person she feels in her body is the same as that visual image." They concluded from replicable data that between the age of eighteen months and twenty-four months that we become self aware. Chimpanzees and Orangutans were also shown to be aware of themselves in the mirror test. It is incredible that we have this way of knowing who we are and being aware of our surroundings and everything that makes up our lives.
In a piece by P. Rochat, Conciousness and Cognition, the five levels of awareness are being described in accordance with the mirror test.
Level 0: Confusion
At this degree of self awareness, the individual is oblivious to any mirror reflection and perceives the image in the mirror as an extension of the world.
Level 1: Differentiation
At this level, the individual notices that there is a perfect contingency between what is being seen in the mirror and felt movements.
Level 2: Situation
The individual goes beyond the awareness of matched surface characteristics of seen
and felt movements. They explore the image being seen on the mirror and they know that it is unique to the self.
Level 3: Identification
In this level, the individuals understand that what is in the mirror is themselves. This is expressed when children refer explicitly to the self while exploring their own specular image. The behavior depicted in the video when the little girl went to pick the spot off from her face is considered by developmental psychologists as the "index of an emerging conceptual self."
Level 4: Permanence
The individual can identify themselves in pictures and movies taken at different times in their lives and in different locations. A permanent self is expressed.
Level 5: Self-Consciousness or Self- Awareness
Individuals are not only aware of what they are but how they are in the mind of others. This results in self conscious emotions.


I am going to put this out there right away and say that I am a believer in ghosts and the whole paranormal thing because I think I have experienced some activity in this area. I'm going to try and not be confirmation biased. There is little to no scientific evidence that shows that ghosts exist. I think that most of the evidence that proves this pseudoscience is true is anecdotal evidence. We believe ghosts exist from the stories we hear, and tend to believe that things happen to us because mysterious things have happened to other which makes it more believable. My family thinks that our house may have some "spirits" in it because we hear a lot of noises at night and things get knocked around in the kitchen when no one is there. Maybe we should consider the sixth scientific principle though: Occam's Razor. Although the fact that it could be actions of the paranormal that we hear/see, it could also very well just be the house or appliances making noises, or a slight breeze moving something, or there may not be a reason that something falls. Something in the kitchen could just fall for no reason. We also need to pay attention to the fifth scientific principle of extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. There is no scientific evidence that proves the ghosts exist, but then again, nothing is ever "proved." There have been some studies that say geomagnetic fields cause many of the experiences and feelings associated with ghostly activity, according to Professor Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Canada. With such extraordinary claims as seeing ghosts and spirits of the after life, there needs to be some pretty extraordinary evidence to support this claim, I agree. But is there even a way to test this idea? How do we know what equipment to use or where to go or anything about the research process to finding ghostly evidence? We just have to keep trying until we achieve substantial evidence that can be used to build this theory. Will we ever know if there are actually entities causing things to go bump in the night? Or are the things we see and hear just our minds playing tricks on us? Is it really just geomagnetic fields stimulating our temporal lobes?

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by kolb0153 in October 2011.

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